Lymph nodes help the body identify and fight infections, germs and other foreign substances. It is very typical for the lymph nodes to swell when the body is invaded by micro-organisms. Swelling is the lymph nodes trying to produce more white blood cells to continue battling foreign substances. It is also a way of telling us that there’s something wrong with our bodies.
Some lymph nodes can be felt with the fingers, while some cannot. Swollen lymph nodes are easily detected and noticed in areas such as the neck, armpit, behind the ears and under the jaw. For lymph nodes that are located deep in the body, it can be hard to tell if there’s something wrong. This can be troublesome.
There are different causes of swollen lymph nodes. The most common cause is due to infection such as viral or bacterial. Different health conditions can also cause swollen lymph nodes. Which lymph nodes will be enlarged depends on the cause as well as the parts of the body involved.
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that harms the immune system. As a result, it weakens the body’s ability to fight infections. HIV is commonly passed on through sexual contact and is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
A person who contracted an HIV can experience symptoms such as fever, sore throat, blotchy red rash, nausea, general aches, swollen glands and diarrhea.
Any form of cancer that spreads in the body will cause enlarged lymph nodes. When cancer cells grow, they multiply in the lymph nodes and will cause the nodes to swell. A person whose cancer has spread to other lymph nodes has a poor survival rate. Metastasis occurs through the lymph channels. Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, can also cause swollen lymph nodes.
Cancer is the cause of swollen lymph nodes if:
- The swollen glands slowly increase in size and don’t go away in a few weeks.
- The swollen glands are not painful but are hard or firm when touching them.
- Swollen glands are accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss and night sweats.
Also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus is a kind of autoimmune disease where the immune system harms the body’s skin, joints, organs and blood cells. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes inflammation in different parts of the body. The severity of lupus can range from mild to severe. People with systemic lupus erythematosus can live a normal life if given proper treatment. The most common symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue. Some lymph nodes will also swell.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system begins to attack the structures that line the joints. It causes inflammation, swelling and pain on the joints. When inflammation persists, it can lead to permanent joint damage. People with rheumatoid arthritis may have small painless lumps.
If swollen lymph nodes persist for more than a couple of weeks it is better to visit a doctor and have them checked. It is best to have a proper diagnosis before embarking upon any treatment plan.